Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef is having a bad year. After major back surgery, she moves into her ex-husband’s home to be cared for by his new wife. As if that weren’t enough to cope with, her octogenarian mother is insisting that Hazel end her dependence on painkillers—an insistence that takes the form of secretly flushing Hazel’s stash down the toilet.
It’s almost a relief when Hazel gets a call about a body found in one of the lakes near Port Dundas. But what raises the hair on the back of her neck is that the local paper has just published the first installment of a serialized story featuring such a scenario. Even before they head out to the lake, she and Detective Constable James Wingate know they are being played. But who is pulling their strings and why are not clear, nor is what they find at the lake at all what they expected. This is no simple drowning accident or even a straightforward murder. It’s Micallef herself who is snared, caught up in a cryptic game being played by a maven of the art of deception.
THE TAKEN (star)
What looks like a prank lures a Canadian police chief into an investigation of a bone-chilling crime.
Hazel Micallef (The Calling, 2008) is none too pleased to be recuperating from back surgery in the home of her ex-husband. But her mother Emily is too frail to care for her 62-year-old daughter, and Andrew Micallef's new wife Glynnis seems determined to be nerve-wrackingly kind to her invalid predecessor. So Hazel barely minds being called back to the Port Dundas OPS when DC James Wingate, who never really wanted to be in charge of the provincial Ontario outpost, gets a report of a body pulled from Lake Gannon by tourists. The ""body"" turns out to be a mannequin, but a number stamped on the headless dummy's torso leads to a video feed of what looks like someone held captive in a basement. Meanwhile, The Port Dundas Record begins to publish chapters of a work by local writer Colin Eldwin, whose plot eerily tracks the Lake Gannon discovery. Eldwin is gone; his wife suggests he's in Toronto cheating on her. But the chapters keep arriving, each with a clue to a crime that hasn't yet been discovered, much less solved. And as the video feed becomes more disturbing, Hazel finds herself at odds with Ray Greene, the former deputy slated to become her boss as the provincial force is consolidated, and with the Toronto police, who resent Ontario's intrusion onto city turf.
Beautiful writing is just one of the pleasures of this Chinese-box puzzler. -Kirkus Reviews (starred)